Suspect in police killing wore body armor, but authorities say that’s not unheard of

Suspect in police killing wore body armor, but authorities say that\'s not unheard of
Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor
nChicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer was shot and killed near the Thompson Center in the Loop on Feb. 13, 2018. 

A four-time felon was charged Wednesday afternoon with first-degree murder and armed violence in connection with the Loop slaying of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer on Tuesday.

Cmdr. Paul Bauer, 53, was shot to death at the Thompson Center after chasing a man fleeing from tactical officers who tried to stop him, police officials said. Bauer confronted the man, who opened fire as the two struggled, killing the 31-year department veteran, according to police officials and other sources. Bauer had been in the area after attending “active shooter” training, which prepares officers for mass shootings. He also had a meeting with aldermen scheduled for later in the day.
<img src="http://newsenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/15/suspect-in-police-killing-wore-body-armo_2.jpg" title="Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor” alt=”Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor”>
Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor

Shomari Legghette has a criminal history stretching back more than two decades, court records show. He picked up new charges while out on bond, on parole and serving probation, making him the kind of repeat offender whom Bauer urged authorities to keep off the street.

At a news conference at police headquarters, Area Central Cmdr. Brendan Deenihan told reporters that Legghette fired seven shots, using a gun with an extended magazine.

Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor
Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer fatally shot by felon in body armor

“This department didn’t just lose an exemplary police officer. The city lost of piece of itself,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters.

Police officials said Bauer, the highest ranking officer killed in decades, had a cousin, Officer Martin Darcy Sr., fatally shot in the line of duty in 1982.

Chicago mourns police commander fatally shot at Thompson Center

Authorities described a hectic scene that ended with the fatal confrontation in a freezing outdoor stairwell, just outside the Thompson Center and a stone’s throw from City Hall.

The mayhem began when officers working a drug mission on Lower Wacker Drive tried to approach Legghette for an interview, Deenihan said.

“We’re not talking about the guy who stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family,” he said in November 2017, according to the Loop North News. “We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”

As soon as the officers left their car, he took off, Deenihan said, running from Lower Wacker Drive to street level as an officer yelled after him: “I just want to talk to you.”

An off-duty Chicago police commander has been shot to death
An off-duty Chicago police commander has been shot to death

Police Commander Shot and Killed After Foot Chase in Chicago

He ran to the corner of State and Clark streets, where Bauer’s car was parked, Deenihan said. Bauer, who had been listening in on his police radio, gave chase — a pursuit caught on video from a nearby taxicab, Deenihan said.

An off-duty Chicago police commander has been shot to death
An off-duty Chicago police commander has been shot to death

"You can hear Cmdr. Bauer on his radio stated that the individual is running toward the State of Illinois Building (Thompson Center) and toward City Hall," said Deenihan.

According to the department of corrections, he was sentenced to prison in 1999 for armed robbery and after he was released, he was arrested again and sentenced to prison for possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number. Legghette was released from prison in 2008 before returning the next year after being convicted again for possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number.

Video then captured Bauer and Legghette struggling at the top of a stairwell near the Thompson Center. Legghette pulled at Bauer, and the two tumbled down the steps. Moments later, witnesses heard seven gunshots, Deenihan said.

Bauer, who was on duty and in full uniform, apparently never drew his own weapon, Deenihan said.

Officers from the Attorney General’s office and Illinois State Police were the first on the scene, he said, followed by a Chicago police officer in civilian clothes.

They came to the stairwell with their guns drawn, ordered Legghette to come out, then placed him under arrest, Deenihan said.

Officials did not discuss it at the news conference and the medical examiner’s office only said that Bauer was shot to death, but a person who was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to speak said Bauer was shot multiple times in the head. The person spokes on the condition of anonymity.

Legghette, wearing body armor under a black coat, had heroin, marijuana and crack cocaine on him in addition to the gun, according to police. He did not make any statements to police, Deenihan said.

Cmdr. Paul Bauer was shot multiple times Tuesday afternoon after he spotted a man matching the radio description of an armed suspect. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Bauer “saw the offender and engaged in an armed physical confrontation.” Officers had been chasing the man on foot.

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Deenihan described a nearby taxi driver as “an excellent witness,” noting that the cab’s camera caught video of Bauer chasing Legghette as well as audio of the gunshots.

A Chicago police official says Bauer identified himself as a police officer and was trying to detain the suspect when they got into a physical fight and fell down a stairwell. The official says the suspect shot Bauer in the head multiple times.

The driver even pulled over, got out of his car and recorded more video on his cellphone, including footage of police recovering the gun from Legghette and the moment the officer realized Legghette was wearing body armor.

According to court records, the 44-year-old Legghette has number of convictions, mainly drug-related. He’s also been convicted of possessing a firearm with a defaced serial number. Legghette previously served time in prison for armed robbery.

Bauer had been in the area after attending “active shooter” training, which prepares officers for mass shootings. He also had a meeting with aldermen scheduled for later in the day.

The official says Bauer identified himself as a police officer and was trying to detain the suspect when they got into a physical fight and fell down a stairwell. The official says the suspect shot Bauer in the head multiple times.

The married father of a 13-year-old daughter is the first Chicago cop fatally shot since 2011.

The shooting death of a police commander near a state government office building gripped parts of downtown Chicago as emergency workers tried to save the department veteran at the scene and officers shackled the suspect.

His first Cook County conviction came in 1997 when he pleaded guilty to drug possession and was sentenced to a year of probation. While serving that probation, he was charged with armed robbery and was ultimately found guilty and sentenced in 1999 to 16 years in prison.

This isn’t the first time Legghette has been arrested by Chicago police while allegedly in possession of body armor. While on parole in November 2007, Legghette was spotted by officers driving the wrong way down a one-way street near 66th Street and Stony Island Avenue, according to police. The officers then recovered a .44-caliber handgun, some heroin and a bulletproof vest, police said.

He was arrested for a slew of offenses: unlawful use of a weapon and body armor by a felon, possession of a gun with a defaced serial number and a heroin charge. He pleaded guilty to the gun charge and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Bauer, 53, was gunned down at the Loop state office building on Tuesday afternoon as he chased a man fleeing fellow officers. A day later, passersby paused there to offer flowers, snap photos — one person made the sign of the cross — as they reflected on the death of the 31-year veteran of the force and the violence that erupted in broad daylight in the heart of the downtown.

While out on bond in that case, he was again arrested and charged with drug possession — a case that was ultimately dropped.

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In 2011 he was charged with resisting an officer and battery, records show. He was found guilty on one of the two battery counts and was sentenced to probation.

Faith Nenadov brings flowers to a memorial for Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer outside the Near North District station Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Chicago. Bauer, 53, a 31-year veteran of the department was shot several times as he went to assist tactical officers pursuing a fleeing suspect in downtown Chicago Tuesday. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

His most recent conviction was similar to his first: He pleaded guilty in 2015 to drug possession and was given two years in prison. He was discharged from parole in August 2016, according to an Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

Officers apprehended a suspect who multiple sources identified as a 44-year-old four-time felon and former prison inmate with an arrest record dating to at least 1994. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 1998 for robbery, court records show. The Tribune is not identifying him because he had not been charged as of early Wednesday afternoon.

Chicago police commander fatally shot on duty

A relative who asked that his name not be used said Legghette grew up in Chicago and played basketball at Dunbar High School. He said he was a funny guy around his family, liked writing rap music and has two daughters

Gilberto Robles, 27, of Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood, works nearby and stopped to pay his respects at the memorial, next to an outdoor, plaza-level stairwell marked with an “emergency exit” sign; the stairs were cordoned off with caution tape. Authorities have said Bauer was shot in or near a stairwell at the Thompson Center.

“I have never known him to carry a firearm, let alone bulletproof armor,” he said.

Johnson noted Legghette’s extensive criminal history, calling the shooting “a devastating reminder” that repeat gun offenders are out on the streets.

Off-duty Chicago police officer fatally shot

“Police officers take a lot of knocks,” he said at the news conference, flanked by several members of his command staff and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “If Paul’s actions yesterday remind us of anything, they should remind us that police officers are the good guys, and Paul was one of the best of the good guys.”

After ascending the department ranks, Bauer assumed leadership in 2016 of the Near North District, just north of where he was shot. In that role, he publicly vented frustration about the difficulty of clearing repeat offenders from the street — a common refrain among Chicago police and political officials who confront a stubborn violent crime rate driven in part by recidivism.

The official, who was briefed on the investigation, spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to provide such details until charges are filed against the suspect in the death of Cmdr. Paul Bauer. Bauer, who had been on the police force for 31 years, was shot Tuesday afternoon after spotting a man matching the radio description of an armed suspect, Chicago police have said.

Chicago police commander killed, 5 others wounded in city shootings

“We’re not talking about the guy who stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family,” he said in November, according to the Loop North News. “We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”

The charges came down as an impromptu memorial grew Wednesday outside the Thompson Center. Passers-by paused there to offer flowers, snap photos — one person made the sign of the cross — as they reflected on the death of the 31-year veteran of the force and violence that erupted in broad daylight in the heart of downtown.

Gilberto Robles, 27, of Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood, works nearby and was caught up in the shooting’s aftermath Tuesday afternoon as he made a

Officers had been chasing the man on foot when Bauer “saw the offender and engaged in an armed physical confrontation,” Johnson said Tuesday afternoon. Police captured the suspect a short time later, and a gun was recovered at the scene, he said.

Chicago Police Commander Killed on Busy Downtown Block

"It is upsetting to find out it is an officer, someone that’s trying to help keep the peace,” Robles said. “But, you know, it just adds another body count to the city."

“There was no communication from him on the radio informing dispatch that he was in pursuit of the offender or that he was even on scene, so they initially thought it was an off-duty officer until someone recognized him,” Guglielmi wrote.

Inside the Thompson Center’s basement food court, Willard O’Brien, 67, of the Canaryville neighborhood, was finishing his breakfast and said he also thought that the shooting highlighted the city’s numbness to violence.

"We are not surprised these things happen all the time," O’Brien said. "It saddens us but doesn’t surprise us."

Greg Zanis, of Crosses for Losses, left a wooden cross adorned with a blue heart, the officer’s name and a laminated photo outside the Thompson Center.

Portia Shaw stared at the memorial from inside the bustling building. She has worked as a security guard at the Thompson Center for 29 years and heard Tuesday’s gunshots on her way to grab a late lunch.

At first, she said she heard arguing, then an alarm in the stairwell go off. Then she heard a series of gunshots that she thinks came from the stairwell.

"I must have counted five or six shots, could have been seven," she said.

Paul Bauer killed: Off duty Chicago Police Commander gunned down helping colleagues to make arrest

The outside stairwell where Shaw thinks she heard the shots was the focus of attention of state officials checking the building’s security the day after Bauer was fatally shot.

Monica Silva, 45, also stopped by during her lunch break to drop off a large, plush stuffed dog that she hoped would end up in the arms of Bauer’s daughter. Silva’s husband is a Chicago police officer in the Near West District, which borders the district Bauer commanded, but she did not know Bauer. Still, a teary-eyed Silva said it still felt like a family member died.

She said she was tired of hearing people just express sympathies after a tragic event. Something needs to change in the city, she said.

"We do become numb to hearing again and again that somebody’s been shot," she said.

Shomari Legghette, 44, was charged with the first-degree murder of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer on Feb. 14, 2018. 

Shomari Legghette, 44, was charged with the first-degree murder of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer on Feb. 14, 2018. 

Complete coverage: Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer killed in shooting »

Slain Chicago cop advocated for stiffer sentences; suspect in his shooting is a 4-time felon »

Mayor, police chief visit district of fallen commander: ‘It’s a gut punch to the city’ »

Shomari Legghette has a criminal history stretching back more than two decades, court records show. He picked up new charges…

Jasmin Soto places flowers at a memorial for police Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the Thompson Center on Feb. 14, 2018, in Chicago.

Jasmin Soto places flowers at a memorial for police Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the Thompson Center on Feb. 14, 2018, in Chicago.

Aiden Sandifer, 9, attaches a “thank you” note at a memorial for police Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the Thompson Center on Feb. 14, 2018.

Aiden Sandifer, 9, attaches a “thank you” note at a memorial for police Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the Thompson Center on Feb. 14, 2018.


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